|Interested in reading a compelling and powerful historical biography on the life of a remarkable Polish Australian who grew up in India? HENIEK: A Polish Boy’s Coming of Age in India During World War II is a must read. Written by Anna Bonshek, it is the true story of her father, Henry Bonshek — a world renown high-voltage transformer designer. The title of the book HENIEK bears Henry’s boyhood name and tells of his incredible ordeal as a youngster during the 1940s.
HENIEK is the inspiring story of this Polish boy born in the eastern Kresy region in the 1920s. It covers historical details of Poland’s occupation mentioning the contribution of great Poles such as Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Pilsudski, Ignacy Paderewski, Chopin, and Adam Mickiewicz and Poland’s return to independence in 1918. After a short-lived period of liberation, in 1939 Hitler invades the country. Within weeks Stalin seizes Poland's eastern territory. Then in 1940, like other innocent children from the region, with no warning, Heniek is deported to Siberia and ordered to work as hard labour in a penal camp.
He is just 12 years of age. Of the one million Poles sent to such camps, most perish. Facing a life of hell, sure starvation and disease, Heniek recounts his astonishing tale of survival. Under the so-called Amnesty, with his mother and sister Heniek makes a daring escape to Uzbekistan, where, forced to separate from his mother, he finds himself on his way to India. Here he is educated, as an orphan refugee, with inspiration from Ignacy Paderewski, through the aegis of the Polish Government-in-Exile, and with the assistance of the Maharaja of Nawanagar and generous Indian families like the Tatas.
Henry Bonshek, 1948
However, finding it hard to study after his ordeal, Heniek is sent to an English school in the restful regions of Mt Abu, Rajasthan where he regains his sense of purpose and from this place of knowledge Heniek goes on to Valivade in Maharashtra — to a temporary Polish settlement. But as the end of the war approaches, Heniek has to make a choice. Will he return home?
With Poland’s future increasingly under Stalin’s influence, Heniek finds himself between a rock and a hard place. His fate is sealed when he is selected to join the Polish Merchant Navy Cadet School in England. Here he starts a new life that sets him on course to become a high-voltage transformer designer before eventually immigrating to Australia.
Featuring over 100 photographs and illustrations—including drawings by the author — HENIEK is at once a heart wrenching yet inspiring journey of endurance and renewal in an era dominated by totalitarian forces. Never before told, it really is a must read true story of one young man’s experience during the most devastating period in world history. It is a story that will touch the heart.
Henry Bonshek, 2004
The book launch on Tamborine Mountain for HENIEK: A Polish Boy’s Coming of Age in India During World War II will be held at Marks and Gardner Gallery and Secret Garden Bookshop and Café, 69 Main Western Road, North Tamborine, Qld 4272, Australia. Please come along for an enlightening evening hosted by Janene Gardner and Mary Marks on March 5th at 5.30 p.m. — where Anna will speak about her new book and her experience as an artist and writer. There will also be an exhibition of Anna’s artwork in the Marks and Gardner Gallery adjacent to the bookshop.
"HENIEK" can be purchased or ordered from The Secret Garden Bookshop phone: +61 (0)7 5545 4992, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Folio Books, 80 Albert Street, Brisbane, Qld 4000, Australia.
Anna’s books, including HENIEK, are also available online at www.collinsbooks.com.au
Anna Bonshek, the author. Henry's eldest daughter